There is often a lot of pressure on athletes to do whatever they can to perform, which means that some feel compelled to turn to chemical supplements, protein powders, and sports drinks to help muscle growth and recovery. However, these days athletes are also looking towards more natural alternatives for supporting the body’s recovery process, and turmeric shots are becoming an increasingly popular natural supplement.
Turmeric is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, and it seems like every coffee shop has turned on to turmeric tea, latte, and ‘golden milk’ phenomenon. It may feel like a new fashion, but there is actually a pretty solid tradition behind this new trend. Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine and cuisine for thousands of years, and well-regarded as having potential health benefits.
This post will give some background to turmeric and its uses, and some indicators of potential benefits for athletic performance.
How might Turmeric and Curcumin benefit athletes?
While it is important to remember that more clinical research is needed to support some of the claims surrounding the healing powers of turmeric (and curcumin), there are strong indicators that turmeric has the following potential benefits for athletes.
Reported natural properties:
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural defence and repair system. It happens when the blood flow increases to allow white blood cells to protect against infection. However, sometimes this process is over-stimulated, such as when muscles are overworked, or in response to allergies, pollutants, and emotional stress, causing swelling, irritation, and pain.
Athletes face a higher risk of repetitive stress from prolonged and intensive workouts without rest days, resulting in micro-tears in muscles, injuries, and chronic conditions.
Curcumins reported anti-inflammatory properties may help control the body’s inflammatory response to stress, working in a similar way to anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Curcumin can potentially reduce muscle damage and associated swelling and soreness following intense exercise sessions, meaning faster recovery times.
Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals, which can damage cells and extend recovery times. By reducing the number of free radicals, antioxidants can help to reduce the time needed to rest and recover between training sessions.
For athletes, faster recovery time between bouts of exercise can make a great difference in ensuring a consistent training regimen, and being able to do higher intensity workouts more often, leading to increased stamina, strength, and performance.
Consuming antioxidants through supplements such as curcumin may reduce muscle soreness and damage by reducing free radicals and oxidative stress.
Consuming turmeric may also have specific benefits for female athletes, since the antispasmodic properties can relieve the intensity and pain of muscle cramps during menstruation. Since period pain and cramps can often be a deterrent to training, this kind of relief can ensure a more consistent, uninterrupted workout schedule.
From the above benefits you can see that turmeric is an all-natural alternative to artificial chemicals seen in many supplement products nowadays. As athletes push themselves to their optimal limit daily, not just physically but also mentally, overtime this can have detrimental effects on themselves, if support from nutrition is not prioritised.
How to access the benefits of turmeric and curcumin:
While turmeric is delicious as an ingredient in various cuisines, and will surely enhance your dietary experience, it is worth remembering that studies looking into the benefits of turmeric actually focus on curcumin that has been extracted from the plant in supplemental form.
Turmeric is not easily absorbed into the body, and so supplements are often combined with ‘helper’ compounds such as piperine (from pepper) to facilitate this absorption. It’s essential to make sure that you get your dose of raw turmeric root from a reliable source, and make sure if in liquid form that they haven’t been cut with fillers such as water, apple or orange juice. Furthermore, be hesitant about consuming the powdered form of turmeric which offers reduced potency, and in some extreme cases can be laced with wheat, rye, or barley flour, which could be potentially harmful to people who are gluten intolerant.
If you are looking to access the potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, a daily supplement may help to reduce inflammation, soreness and recovery time so that you can maintain an optimum training regime.
For athletes at present, training will still be going ahead with constant communication with their coaches. If you are looking to access the potential natural benefit of adding turmeric in it’s rawest form to your nutritional plan, helping daily recovery, combatting soreness and fatigue, then The Turmeric Co. is right for you.
Alongside a balanced diet of food sources including carbohydrates, proteins and fats, athletes will be in a position to hit the ground running from any prolonged absence from a regular training regime within their sporting discipline.